Educators and Enthusiasts

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Teachers lead, but do leaders teach?

How important is it to language learners to learn a foreign language from a native speaker? Do fewer opportunities for improvement pervade the nonnative teacher as a language instructor? What are your thoughts? I suggest that there exist, teachers and learners, who because of their passion and persistence in their target language, also become Language Leaders.

As a nonnative learner (NNL) and teacher of the Japanese language, it is my hope that more learners and teachers of all languages will focus on leading in the language “their in,” rather than competing for patrons. I have a made-up word for you, “Splentifull.” It is my made-up word that combines splendid and plentiful, describing a community of foreign language teachers and learners. The harvest is plentiful, but the leaders are few. Let there be leaders, who plant their talent as seeds that lead to language acquisition and harmonious communication.

I have experienced both native and nonnative teachers (degreed and nondegree), the object is for the learner to grasp the passion of the teacher. The teacher’s role is to motivate, instruct, point, elicit, encourage, but it is the learner whose role is to learn. I listen to teachers, but I have been moved to learning from the labor of leaders. I have sat under the instruction of native speakers (NS) teachers, who appeared to care little about whether I learn the Japanese language or not. It is easy to imagine that they enjoy and lavish in the grandiosity (or even false humility) of their own fluency and proficiency in their native language. Did I learn to listen or speak in the proper way? Yes!

I have also sat with, nonnative speakers (NNS), teachers of Japanese (and Chinese) languages, from whom I have learned to be a passionate learner of the language and culture and developed fluency in skill and accuracy, in spite of their proficiency limitations. I was comfortable letting my guards down in their presence, as I struggled to engage in the learning process. Was it their unwavering patience that touched me in a way that NS teacher professionals could not? Maybe it was their way of leading me to be comfortable with my own imperfections and, simply put, helping me to love the language that I’m in, ‘regardless of their status as NS or NNS.

For those teacher leaders, both native speakers = NS and non-native speakers = NNS, I applaud you for making learning a language great again!